Halloween crafts can supplement the yard decorations we've discussed on Page 1. The following Halloween crafts are based on plants that you can grow on your own property. They can adorn your front door, porch, deck, gazebo, storage shed, arbor, etc.
Gourds for Halloween Crafts
Carving pumpkins is fun, but isn't it sad when you're really satisfied with the carving you've done on a jack-o'-lantern, only to have it begin rotting on you? Well, there is a better way: don't use a pumpkin for Halloween crafts, use a hardshell gourd, instead! The hardshell gourd with which most people are familiar is the type often used in making birdhouses. But there are other types that come in different shapes, including one type that has the same rounded shape pumpkins have -- making them perfect for jack-o'-lanterns. They're called "bushel" gourds.
Properly dried hardshell gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) are permanent, so they can be used year in and year out for Halloween crafts. For outdoor use, protect them from the elements with shellac or a similar coating. In fact, a bushel gourd could also serve as the head for the scarecrow we discussed on Page 1. Just drill holes in the bottom, pass twine through the holes and tie the gourd to the scarecrow's shirt collar. You can read all about these novel pumpkin-substitutes in my Halloween crafts article on making Halloween jack-o'-lanterns from gourds. But do let your hardshell gourds dry fully before carving them (if you carve while the gourd is still wet, you'll introduce bacteria that may harm the gourd).
You may wonder why I specified "hardshell" gourds above. Well, I did so to distinguish them from the smaller and more common "ornamental" gourds (Cucurbita pepo). Of the two types of gourds, the hardshell variety can be used in a wider array of Halloween crafts.
Not that I have anything against the ornamental gourds. Far from it. In fact, they were one of my first loves as a child. Their odd shapes and textures and harvest colors make them a staple of fall displays. Because they are small, they must be massed together to have any impact. For outdoor displays, they can be effective in wreaths, including grapevine wreaths.
More Halloween Crafts: Wreaths
A large, thick, tightly wound grapevine wreath is preferable for this Halloween craft idea. They're simple enough to make. Just wind the vines into a hoop-shape and tie it off with twine. If you don't feel like making your own grapevine wreath you can purchase one already made at a store that sells Halloween crafts. Massed together in a wreath, ornamental gourds can be quite striking. Simply drill holes in their bottoms and insert floral sticks in these holes, leaving at least 3" of stick hanging out. Wedge the other end of the stick into the grapevine wreath. Shellacking the gourds will help preserve their color and give them a shine. Complete the wreath with an orange bow.
Grapevines are not the only material that makes for a good wreath-base for Halloween crafts. Bittersweet vines (Celastrus scandens) are another favorite for enthusiasts of Halloween crafts, and they are so colorful in and of themselves that they require little or no ornamentation! Pick bittersweet vines while their berries are still green, and form them into wreaths immediately. If you wait until the berries have matured to their fall colors, they will probably drop their attractive husk while you're working with them. Fashion the wreath as above for the grapevine wreath. The husk of bittersweet berries is a golden-yellow, which goes beautifully with the orangey-red of the mature berry. A bow is all you need now to complete your classic bittersweet wreath.